ROACHDALE -- A week after its loss in the championship game of the Putnam County Classic, North Putnam's boys' basketball squad hosted Crawfordsville Saturday night looking to move back to .500 on the season.
After a sluggish start, the Cougars rallied to tie the game at 21 before the Athenians made their own run that sealed the 78-58 win for the visitors.
Crawfordsville shot out of the gates quickly by taking a 6-0 lead and extending that margin to 16-7 by the end of the first period.
Fouls piled up on both sides and the hosts used this to their advantage early on by opening the quarter on a 14-5 run that tied the game at 21-all.
"We could have gotten a lead while they were in foul trouble," NPHS coach Nathan Martindale said. "But we didn't take those chances. They got a couple of breaks and extended their lead. That hurt us in terms of where we needed to be."
Just as North Putnam's shooting was starting to flow it suddenly cooled and Crawfordsville used a 16-4 run of its own to end the half leading 37-25.
"We looked a step slow. We didn't react like we wanted to," Martindale said. "We didn't do a good job adjusting and when a team like Crawfordsville gets hot, it became contagious and they took off from there."
The Cougars came as close as eight points to open the third period but an 18-5 run by the Athenians to close the quarter put NPHS down by 21 entering the final frame.
North Putnam could only match Crawfordsville point-for-point and failed to make any inroads on the Athenian lead as the Cougars fell to 1-3 on the season.
Martindale said the offense did some good things but the squad just couldn't get over the hump when it had a chance.
"We had some great opportunities to dial it in, get a lead and build off that but we missed those chances," he said. "We had good inside-outside motion. Jake Haste had a good game on the interior for us. Jameson Brewer and Jordan Nauert made better inside moves for us."
For Martindale, the game mainly came down to the Cougars being unable to challenge Crawfordsville's offense.
"Our offense looked better," Martindale said. "Our defense, which we stressed since day one, got away from us tonight. We need to hone back in on that this week."
North Putnam hosts Cascade next Friday, and Martindale said the squad simply needs to keep working like it has been in practice.
"We've just got to keep getting better," Martindale said. "This week was better than last week and last week was better than the year before. We've got to keep improving on making guys feel comfortable.
"Jake hasn't been comfortable in the offense before tonight. Jameson is moving a lot more to get open looks.
"If we can combine that with what we want to do on defense, we'll be fine. We can't worry a lot about other teams at the moment. We've got to worry about us," Martindale added. "If we get some things corrected on the defensive and offensive ends, we'll be in good shape. We've just got to keep moving."
At North Putnam
Crawfordsville - 16 21 24 17 -- 78
North Putnam - 7 18 15 18 -- 58
Crawfordsville: 30-61 FG, 8-17 3-PT, 10-18 FT
Pursell 26, Horner 11, Zurawski 11, Conrad 7, Jackson 6, Miller 6, Page 5, Kidd 2, Reeves 2, Schafer 2
North Putnam: 19-54 FG, 3-13 3-PT, 16-26 FT
Haste 18, Brewer 16, Nauert 8, Beaman 6, Roberts 6, Hazelgrove 2, Herrmann 1
Crawfordsville 43, North Putnam 28
Crawfordsville 24, North Putnam 19
Crawfordsville 26, North Putnam 15
Next Game: North Putnam hosts Cascade next Friday.